Fred Marius

Fred Marius: Leadville 2017 Race Report – The Doctor Pepper Story

The long story. No longer able to run because of my knee problems, last year mulling my next act, a bunch of Team Psycho’s emailed about entering the lottery for the Leadville 100 mtb. Deemed by many who have done it as the hardest thing they have ever done. I set off for my quest to get to the famous Leadville 100 MTB race. We entered the lottery, but didn’t get in. So I went to the Austin Rattler in May of 2016, but this newby didn’t have a chance. Prepared better and went to Whiteface, and got a roll down slot on a lonnnng roll down to 13th place in my age group. I then deferred to 2017, which is a wonderful thing that they let you do. I prepared all year, got the bike just right. I would ride a hardtail and add aerobars because of the storied long road sections. I got the bike as light as it could be and I sought to be as light as I could be. During that time I kept thinking about my most favorite of drinks: Dr. Pepper. I loved them as a kid, but hadn’t had one in years. During the weeks before I would reduce the calories I ate, go on fasted rides, made it 115 miles to Mt. Wachusetts on the mtb two weeks out, and during all that time I kept thinking about a Dr. Pepper I would treat myself to after the race. I fasted both the Friday and the Sunday one week out, and kept telling myself that I would reward myself after the race with a Dr. Pepper. Travelled to the race the Wed before, I did good climbing rides on Thursday and Friday to understand the course and get acclimated, and during the entire time I told myself I would get a Dr. Pepper after the race. I didn’t eat after 4:00 on Friday to make sure I felt well the next morning. To bed by 7:45 on the night before the race, up at 3:45am race morning. Just a sip of coffee, bread for my prerace breakfast. I was first to place my bike at the front of the purple corral at 4:45 and felt ready to do. I had done everything right up until that moment, I would not have done anything differently. The race went off at 6:30am and a crazy 1400 mtbs went off down this hill as fast as they could go. I climbed with the group, inching along until we got to the powerline descent. Everything was great. On the pipeline section leading to Columbine on the aerobars (though very unconventional) proved awesome. Columbine was perfect until 12,000 feet. OHHH, the wheels came off. I had noting in my legs, couldn’t get my breath. Was walking and had to even sit for a moment. Stumbling. In my head I kept thinking, you will get a Dr. Pepper after this. Made it to the turnaround after cresting 12,600 feet, and took my time to drink and eat at the feed station, headache, nausea ensued. It was 12,000+ feet you know. Got back on the bike and descended, felt good again once down to 10,000 feet again and got my mojo on. Tucked on the aerobars on the pipleline section, Rode all but about 100 yards on powerline and was passed by no one but passed many, descended again to the road, climbed to the top of St. Evens passing racers the whole way, descended alone back down and then was down in the drops on the entire way to the finish, hitting has high as 27 mphs on the straights and howling at the volunteers how wonderful this all was and getting the same response back. All during this time thinking. I deserve that Dr. Pepper. I have earned this Dr. Pepper. Coming up the hill to the finish everyone was screaming, hollering, I gave it all the gas I had left and after crossing the line just collapsed to the handlebars of my bike. The founder of the race, Ken, came up and said you really gave it your all coming up that hill, congratulations he said. I said I wanted to shake his hand, he pushed it aside and gave me a hug. Then the co-founder, Merilee came over and the two of them gave me a long hug together. He then joked, and those things on your bars make it easier to see. The aerobars Ha ha. It was one of the most touching moments I have ever had in a race. 103.3 miles, 12,000 feet of climbing, 9 hours 21 min 9 seconds. And yes, the race was the hardest thing I have ever done. I had planned, I had trained, I had prepared the very best I could and I gave everything I had or could have on the race. No regrets. I then found a tree and collapsed next to it. Found I was just shivering without let up and got my bike and made my way back to my Airbnb on 7th street just a few blocks away. It took forever to get warm, but I kept thinking about that Dr. Pepper. I made my way to the store, got ice cream, angel food cake, beer and the last thing I picked up was a Dr. Pepper. Not just one, but one regular full sugar version and one diet. When I got back to the house I put them in the fridge, but because I had to leave early the next morning for the airport and the awards were in the morning I set to work getting everything packed away, but I was so exhausted that I deferred the Dr. Pepper to the next day because I wanted to savor it. The next morning awards started at 7:30 and were the most inspirational, real, touching awards ceremony I have every been to. I then waited in line for my sub 12 hr belt buckle so by that time it was over, it was 9:30. I rushed back to the house, threw my bags in the car, and grabbed the real Dr. Pepper, along with a Gatorade, for my trip to Denver leaving the diet version in the frig. I put the Dr. Pepper right up next to me in the car, but wanted to not just drink it on the drive but savor it. Got to the airport, put the Dr. Pepper in a pocket on my checked bag and rolled to the counter. Two other racers were there and we talked. And then the last thing I did was to take the Dr. Pepper out of the checked bag and put it in my carry on. I would drink it before going through TSA. As I pulled it out, I said to the other two racers, holding out my Dr. Pepper. I said “ This is what it is all about. Having a Dr. Pepper without shame.” They laughed and agreed. I then threw away the full Gatorade and walked toward TSA. On the left in this huge area of the Denver airport were long lines of hundreds of people going through TSA, on my right was a Subway sandwich shop. This was the moment. This was the time. It all lead up to this. I took the Dr. Pepper out of my bag. I looked at it. I savored the moment. I turned the top, with the Dr. Pepper only a foot from my mouth. And the entire bottle exploded in my face. Dr. Pepper sprayed everywhere. On me, on people walking by, on people waiting through TSA, on people in Subway and also directly all over me. I was covered in Dr. Pepper, while not one drip made it to my mouth. People were like WOW, DUDE, OH MY, SHOOT, AWWWWWW. I closed the top. A pool of Dr. Pepper on the floor around me, covering my bag, my shirt, on my pants and arms. I threw the bottle in the trash and made my way right to the bathroom where I spent 15 minutes changing clothes and washing the Dr. Pepper off of me. Once I was as cleaned up as I could be, I snuck out of the rest room, and sheepishly walked past the widening pool of Dr. Pepper on the floor to my left. There was nothing I could do about it. Truly. I went through TSA, made my way to my flight and got home late Sunday night, still not having tasted the sweet taste of a cold, full of sugar, childhood taste of Dr. Pepper from my childhood. Well, maybe next year.

Ed. Note: The story has a happy ending – Fred wrote to say: Just had to get to the top of Mt. Washington a week later. Two friends each brought me a Dr. Pepper to the top!! Shssssss don’t tell Carmen.

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